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The Global Freedom Exchange, a program by Vital Voices in partnership with Hilton Worldwide, is an innovative two-week program for 26 emerging women leaders from 13 countries, who are dedicated to ending the destructive practice of child sex trafficking. The women will attend events in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Dallas, learning about the best practices and policies set in place by various organizations and governmental agencies to eradicate the scourge of child commercial sexual exploitation.

Child sex trafficking victimizes over 1.2 million minors each year, and victims are, on average, 12 years old.

The goal of the Global Freedom Exchange is to provide participants with specific knowledge, skills and relationships that will benefit their professional development, their respective NGOs, and the communities they serve. Training and mentoring opportunities offered to participants will foster an international network of activists working together to prevent and respond to child sex trafficking.

The exchange emphasizes the importance of ensuring that survivors are given the opportunity to become leaders to the movement to prevent and respond to trafficking. The program this week featured Tina Frundt, survivor-activist and founder of Courtney’s House that encourages participants to empower survivors to use their voices and use survivor-informed outreach techniques. “I can rescue your body, but I can’t rescue your mind,” she said, stressing the importance of victims’ engagement in trauma recovery.

On Tuesday this week the group visited the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, meeting with Ambassador Louis CdeBaca, who emphasized the importance of engaging individual survivors in their unique situations, rather than making assumptions about who they are or where they come from.   

The next 10 days we’ll connect with inspiring partner organizations and innovative initiatives including the Somaly Mam Foundation, Girl Be Heard, and Genesis Women’s Shelter.

Learn more

Watch for this blog for updates, follow #GlobalFreedomExchange on Twitter, and check Facebook for the week’s events.

Megan Abbot is Vital Voices program coordinator, Human Rights.

Top: Global Freedom Exchange participants met with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a NGO coordinating and developing resources to find children when they go missing.

Read: How to Stop Global Child Trafficking (Forbes) by Jennifer Silberman, vice president of corporate responsibility at Hilton Worldwide.

Other posts: NY and Dallas, TX recaps.